Mini Reviews: Brian’s Return & Brian’s Hunt by Gary Paulsen

Ahhhh, it’s the end of Brian’s Saga! 😦 I’ll never get tired of the way Paulsen describes the food and nature scenes, and even though I’m sad that these are the last two books in the series, I’m excited to read Paulsen’s Guts in which he tells the true events that inspired this series. I also can’t wait to read Paulsen’s other works – his writing style is simple, yet powerful, and I still want more of it!

Brian's Return

Title: Brian’s Return
Author: Gary Paulsen
Series: Brian’s Saga #4
Publication Date: January 12, 1999
Category: (Middle Grade) Survival / Adventure

After reading Brian’s Winter, this sequel felt too short yet again. Brian’s Return is a continuation of The River – after Brian returns home, he is once again uncomfortable in his old environment. He loses interest in hanging out with his friends and watching TV, and ends up accidentally reverting back to wilderness mode in public after being in a “threatening” situation. After being forced go to counseling sessions, Brian realizes that he has to go back to the wilderness. No surprises in Brian’s Return, just a sense of rightness after Brian returns to the place where he feels he belongs. But I wanted more! I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of reading about Brian, and I’m so sad that there’s only one more book left in the series.
Brian's Hunt

Title: Brian’s Hunt
Author: Gary Paulsen
Series: Brian’s Saga #5
Publication Date: December 23, 2003
Category: (Middle Grade) Survival / Adventure

If this book was combined with Brian’s Return, I would’ve enjoyed the latter better. Brian’s Hunt continues off from where we left Brian, who was on his way to the Cree trapping family he met in Brian’s Winter. He meets an injured dog along the way, and witnesses a cruel and disturbing scene that leads Brian to The Hunt. In this last (for now) book in the Brian’s Saga series, Paulsen shows us a harshness of nature that is not present in the previous books. The one thing I didn’t like about this book was the addition of the Cree family’s daughter, who is around Brian’s age. Paulsen tempts us with a potential romance but doesn’t deliver – she’s a necessary (but minor) installment in this story, but Brian’s thoughts about her made it seem like she has a bigger role. (See, I stop understanding Brian when he starts turning into a teenager.) But nevertheless, this book is intense and captivating, and has a powerful message that is driven by vivid imagery and suspenseful scenes.



Mini Reviews: The River & Brian’s Winter by Gary Paulsen

I’m in love with Gary Paulsen’s Brian’s Saga series right now, and I’m so glad that I had a chance to re-read the first book during Re-read January or else I probably wouldn’t have gotten a chance to read the other books in the series. Seriously, I’ve never salivated so much while reading a series! When you start mind-fusing with a character, you know that a book is getting to you.

The River 

Title: The River
Author: Gary Paulsen
Series: Brian’s Saga #2
Publication Date: May 1, 1991
Category: (Middle Grade) Survival

A captivating sequel to Paulsen’s first book in the Brian Robeson series, The River tells the story of Brian’s second adventure in the Canadian wilderness a year after he survived in the first, this time with a psychologist from the government survival school tagging along. A shorter journey that holds the same amount of excitement and tension, The River effectively showcases the new Brian, who is now more mature and thoughtful in how he approaches the problems he encounters. And and he can cook now! swoons

Brian's Winter

Title: Brian’s Winter
Author: Gary Paulsen
Series: Brian’s Saga #3
Publication Date: January 1, 1996
Category: (Middle Grade) Survival

I fell in love with the Canadian wilderness and Brian Robeson all over again in Brian’s Winter. This is like Hatchet, but with more evocative and breathtaking scenes of nature that left me awed and humbled. As an alternate sequel to the first book in the series, Brian’s Winter tackles the question of how Brian would survive through the winter if he hadn’t been rescued. Because Brian is more prepared than he was when he first crash-landed, this story has more fun elements amidst the danger; for example, Brian gets an unconventional pet, and moose encounter part two happens with better results. But the winter is a whole different animal, and it’s awesome to see how Brian uses the skills he learned in the fall and how he gains insight into the new problems that arise as the weather gets colder. And the imagery is more intense in Brian’s Winter – I was drooling throughout all the food scenes, and I froze along with Brian as he went outside into the snow to hunt. Overall, Brian’s Winter is a realistic and incredible journey that is another level up from Hatchet.


Review: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

HatchetThe plot summary of Hatchet might remind you of the TV show Lost, but I’ve never watched Lost and can only assume that it’s full of vicious predators, missing limbs and a lot of gore, and conspiracies and flashbacks about the real world. Hatchet isn’t as dramatic or corrupted – rather, it’s about one boy who is forced to try to survive in the wild with only a hatchet. Hatchet is an enlightening and engrossing read about self-discovery, nature, family, and societal values, and it reveals the strong survival instincts in all of us if we are thrown into a dangerous situation.Read More »